Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

How did you get dad so involved?   2 comments

So, mini update. I get this one a lot with mums (who see my baby in a carrier on dad’s chest cooing away). How does one help get dad (This also goes for second mum, step parents, and so on) involved? A lot of the time fathers really don’t know where they stand with the tiny baby and mothers have very strong ideas about how they want things done.

The most important factor here is trust – trust that dad will figure it out. The relationship between babies and their caregivers is unique to each care giver. The key is to provide for the baby quickly and with affection; as they get older giving them time and love and responding to their needs. There are many different ways to do this and the best way to find out what they are is abandonment – leave dad and baby to it. Be there if he wants help, but he is on his own. Settling the baby is between them, and your confidence and trust bolsters theirs.

Another factor is keeping the relationship unique. Having something that each of you does between you and the baby – something that reinforces the relationship’s unique nature. Something that says ‘I am important as more than just ‘a person’. Often dads feel shut out of baby rearing because they just do the same things everyone else does. Sometimes people get a bottle so daddy can feed the baby too – the truth is that that falls short of what is needed here. Daddy needs to be ‘the one who reads at night’ or ‘the one who takes baby for adventures in the kitchen’. Daddy needs something unique. It can change, but there always has to be something that says ‘daddy’ to baby. As they get older there can be games and stories between them – but having something unique between them (just as you will have unique things between you) cements a stronger bond.

I have found a few books for dads to read that help with young children. I personally recommend “My Love Will Be with You” by Laura Krauss Melmed, and “Daddy Cuddles”/”Daddy Kisses” by Anne Gutman. These are books which paint fathers as figures of affection, something which is difficult to find in children’s books which often relegate fathers to figures of activity. It can help fathers be more comfortable in an affectionate paternal role.

Push for the time now, and let them have it. All children need face-time, dedicated time, with their individual care givers to be at their best. And this can really help.

How does a SAHM SAH?   Leave a comment

So this question came up. How does a stay at home mum stay at home?

There’s lots of reasons for a stay at home parent (Yep, stay a home dads count, too!) to stay at home. Most of them relating to wanting the best possible carer for your children – which is you. Preschools and Schools are not bad choices, but your children will never get the one on one attention,  customised classes, or the emotional security (which only leads to a more successful children) that comes from you. Not every family can do it – not everyone wants to. If you do, this one is for you.

There’s lots of money saving tips out there. This entry isn’t about that. I’ll be adding to that body with my own collection next week. Before that, though, here is some advice that has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with success: Be good to each other.

The world has not become a better place for the worker in recent years. A lot of places which previously had excellent rights and a least a reasonable minimum wage no longer have. I live in the USA, so we have never had the former and it’s been a very, very long time since the latter.
Well, of course you know this. The thing is that this matters not just to your wallet, but to your relationship. Financial worry is stressful. It is also all but inevitable in your relationship as a working parent, child-rearing parent partnership.

So be good to each other.

Stay-at-home parent, remember that working parent is working a job that 40 years ago would have paid all the bills and still gotten you a holiday once a year. These days, they’re lucky if you can eat out (which you absolutely should not do… but that is for next week). There will be times when even though they work so very hard they feel they are failing when they can’t provide things you want. Please be understanding of this. Be understanding of their hard days, be appreciative of all the days. Acknowledge their contributions – even the small ones.

So be good to each other.

Working parent, remember that stay-at-home parent works as hard as you do. They don’t get lunch breaks, they don’t get days off. Even when you’ve been working a 14 hour shift and just want to get your footwear off, remember that stay-at-home parent has been working it, too. Your time off is their time off – share it. Help out. A good parent gives the child or children all the attention they need, and children need a LOT of attention for a secure attachment (basically the key to a life of success). That isn’t easy. You’re part of it, too. You need to be a part of your kid’s life (lives) as more than a breadwinner. Caring for them and fulfilling their needs does this. It also lets your stay at home partner spend 20 minutes playing Halo, napping, or knitting. That means a lot when one spends the rest of one’s day attending to the needs of others.

So be good to each other.

Remember that your partner is not a mind reader. No one is. If your needs are not being met, talk about it. Tell your partner how you feel. Even for the little things. Lots of little silences build up in to one big silence before too long. Remember to listen, too. You don’t always talk when you should, either, so even if it is something that’s been going on for a while, give it serious thought. Break downs in communication are a huge problem, and they start by saying yes when you mean no or worse, saying nothing at all when you want to speak.

So be good to each other, respect each partner’s contribution and talk to each other. Be the equal partners you are supposed to be. Sometimes you will disagree, but you are partners in this adventure. THAT is how stay at home parents stay at home.

Armpits4August. It’s a thing.   Leave a comment

So, this came up.
Most of what I could say is in this article. Please do read.

What I’m going to do is tell you why I don’t shave, and it’s not because I’m a feminist.
It’s because I’m a mother.

I first stopped shaving when I was 3 months pregnant and nearly slipped in the shower. Anyone who has a baby knows how terrifying those first few months are. There is a constant, and somewhat valid, fear of doing something and loosing the baby. Shaving became one of those things I just did not have the guts to do.
I’d been shaving for years. The menfolk in my life seemed to prefer it, and I always thought of it as cleaner. Who wants smelly armpit hair? As for my legs, well, I have PCOS myself. They look like dude’s legs. I also have a small beard.
I was very, very self conscious. I still remember crying many, many times because I just felt so self conscious about it. Once my husband even stopped on a trip somewhere to get some razors, because I would freak out about it.
Then I got pregnant.
Everything changed. I stopped shaving my legs and everything else, too. I was still self-conscious, but at least I no longer feared being mistaken for a cross dresser (which I also feel guilty for, because there is nothing wrong with actually being a cross dresser ). A Pregnant belly is an unmistakable mark of femininity. Suddenly I was confident in my gender identity as never before. I am a woman. I like being a woman. I am happy being a woman. Finally, I am secure in being a woman. It doesn’t work that way for everyone, but for me, it did.
Then i had my baby.
Getting out became a goal in and of itself. Who cares what I look like? If I got my hair brushed every day it was a miracle; shower once a week was impressive. Everything became about pushing through those hard, hard first months. I had to refocus on what what important: Getting my hair brushed, and wearing my shirt right way out. I stopped caring about my hair. I didn’t even notice. I was so wrapped up in caring for my baby that some how I stopped worrying about how other people see me.
Then I was showering every second day and even got out for walks with my baby. I could walk without pain and my mind felt clear again. It happened some time around the six month mark that I woke up.
I realised that I didn’t hate myself anymore. I actually feel *good* about myself. I am happy being this way! There is nothing wrong with arm pit hair and a bit of a beard! I have nothing to prove. Not to the world. Not to you… and not to myself.

Then came the next realisation.
I am my daughter’s model. When she looks at me, she will see what she will look like when she grows up – even though she may, in reality, look nothing like me she will still think this way. If I show her that I am not happy with my body, then how can she be happy with hers? In her mind, I am judging her when I judge myself. Mother is the model of all things to daughter. I can teach her self love. This is my opportunity to make her happier than I ever was. I can teach her to love herself by not changing myself. By saying ‘I’m fine as I am’ I can teach her that so, too, is she. I can teach her to be healthy instead of thin; by happy instead of shaven. I am going to. If she chooses to shave later on, that’s her choice. But I will not have taught her from her youngest days that she has to to be a woman. She will not know how much self doubt I was tourtured with because I had a few hairs on my chin.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is where I will now explain something even more mind blowing than my journey to self acceptance with the help of a litle baby.
There is not a single part of your anatomy that does not serve a purpose.
Even your hair.
I know. I know. Pubic hair is icky, right? Wrong. As icky as public hair seems, what it actually does is keep the skin underneath clean and free of harmful bacteria. When you shave, you actually cover your skin in harmful bacteria and open it up with micro-tears in to which the bacteria can travel. Other removal methods are just as harsh. You actually make yourself more dirty by removing it.
It also makes things more comfortable. It reduces friction when you move your arms… and during sex. It cushions one against bacteria carried by one’s partner during sex, too. If you’re having casual sex, keep in mind that those micro-tears that let bacteria in also make you more likely to catch STDs. I found my regular UTIs disappeared after I stopped shaving. Nothing else worked.
So yea. It’s there for good reasons.

Put some though in to Armputs4August ladies – and gents. See if you like the freedom it brings. I sure did. You might be happier – and healthier.

Why do you care..?   Leave a comment

So this came up a while ago, but I felt like it deserves to be said again.

A conversation occurred way back in May wherein I was criticized for judging “Cry it outas wrong while there are a great many worse things like rape, or murder, that occur. Besides the obvious flaw here, as I was drifting off that night, it was still going through my head. So why do I think CIO is so important? When I find my motivations questioned, I like to ask myself why I feel the way I do. Well, I think I figured it out. It has to do with something else I see as terribly, terribly wrong despite worse evils – slut shaming.

The two are not, on the surface, related. Where I see parallels is how they function in society. You see, lots of things make it easier, psychologically, to rape or murder a woman. One of these things is removal of person-hood and making women a thing (“I need a woman”) and all women as ‘women’ (“Why do women…”/”That’s women’s work”). Another way to make it easier is to make the crimes the victim’s fault in the mind of the perpetrator. This is achieved by creating circumstances which the victim should have acted a different way to avoid their assault, thereby making it their fault.

Slut shaming does all of this. Women must behave, act, and look a certain way or they are sluts. Sluts are women who lose their person-hood and become objects. Often in the common perception, ‘They deserve bad things because _________’. ‘It’s terrible, but it wouldn’t have happened if she had…’ ‘She was asking for it’. ‘Doesn’t she know she’s ruining his life?’. She is a slut. She is less than a person. Throughout a lot of history and in the minds of many today, woman must protect herself against being seen as s slut less some poor man be overcome when he looks at her. If this happens then she’ll bring shame on herself and her family. While the implications for this as a victim of an assault are terrible, it goes further than that. Slut shaming creates circumstances for permitting or excusing rape, and sometimes even murder… and the worse the shaming in a society, the more common rapes and murders are. I know ending all slut shaming wouldn’t end rape and murder, but if we remove slut shaming (and with it victim blaming) it makes crossing that line harder. Right now excuses like failing to understand the severity of one’s actions and failure to understand consent are common… including in bystanders.

So, how does this relate to CIO? I find CIO dehumanizes babies. In the same way slut shaming removes the person-hood of a woman, so to do CIO and other similar practices deprive babies and children of their person-hood. Their wants and needs are set aside as unimportant. Their means of communicating distress are treated as an annoyance, and their need for closeness as an inconvenience. Their needs are secondary to their parent’s desires – they are not persons. Parent are feel as though they know the needs of the infant better than the infant themself, and the infant as though they are  creating difficulty by communicating their needs and seeking closeness. They are treated as though they need to be trained, like a pet. They are dehumanized. Their parents conditioned to be desensitized to their distress; to not respond. Their emotions, and developmentally appropriate (indeed, immensely biologically important) needs marginalized and set aside.

We make this OK as a society. We make it OK to ignore children’s distress as infants, desensitizing ourselves. Then as they grow older, we make it OK to commit physical violence against them, for the same reasons. To train them. Using the same ways of thinking. Further removing their humanity and marginalizing them as persons. We treat children as property, objectifying them. As a society. I feel that this creates an atmosphere where some people can excuse their actions in the same way some people excuse their actions against sluts. It may seem a little thing, unimportant when compared to everything else that could happen – but nothing happens in a vacuum. Small things can and do contribute to larger ones. That is why, my friends, I feel so strongly about CIO (and other child related socially acceptable neglect and violence).

A fitting first topic   3 comments

Well. Here I am. Writing. I’m one of those people who was always thinking about writing a blog but never really did it.
And now I am.
And what, you might ask, triggered my final decision to really give this thing a shot?
Well, it was of course something that happened to come up. So many of my mini rants are.
Someone posted a photo of themselves at their new, dieted, post birth weight, well on their way to their goal… and I wanted to scream at her.

I didn’t. I didn’t because it isn’t her fault. Getting back to your pre-birth weight is just something women DO, right? All those baby pounds have to go, right?
Here’s the thing. No. No, they don’t. Firstly, the idea you have a perfect weight is blatantly false. Health is far more complicated than simply taking your height, and weight, and saying one person is healthy and another is not. Health is about blood pressures, and cholesterol levels. It’s about stress reactions, insulin levels. It’s about all kinds of things. Body fat isn’t really one of them.
Here’s the thing. Being overweight can be a symptom of other health issues. It isn’t, in and of itself, unhealthy. And yet we are obsessed. The entire medical establishment is obsessed. The entire population is obsessed. With a symptom. There is this idea that if a BMI is right, then an individual is healthy. It simply isn’t true. Hell, people with normal BMIs don’t even live longer. However, here we are, dieting. Don’t get me wrong, a not awesome diet can cause issues. However, dieting rarely aims to fix issues with nutritional deficiencies and overabundance – it aims to perform simple math that makes calories into be pretty dire. That, ladies and entlemen, is how we get some people with eating disorders. Actually, a lot of our ideas about health are off. Such as, did you know, half of all heart attach patients have normal blood cholesterol – many even low?
Anyway. Weight doesn’t define health. So why do so many women who have babies become so uncomfortable with their weight?
The answer is in how the conversation went after I asked “How does it feel?”.
There isn’t an answer. There was confusion.  How it feels just wasn’t  important. That’s not why most post natal women loose weight.
It’s about body image.
There’s this ideal self in the minds of many women that they could be if only they could be thin enough. Curvy enough. Pretty enough. There’s this idea that something is wrong with you if you have body fat. Ladies – and gentlemen – that’s not really true. Sure, something could be wrong with you, but it’s not your fat.
Women who have been pregnant have been through a huge change greater than even that of puberty. There is nothing else like it in the human experience. With it comes great hormonal and physical changes. One of these is that there is weight to be gained, and one’s body does not wish to loose it. One’s body actually rather needs it. This race to be thin is not healthy. It’s not healthy for your mind, and it is not healthy for your body, mama. You’re looking at the scale when you should be thinking ‘how do I feel?’. Everything else is a distraction. Post natal exercise is good. Post natal dieting? Not so much. Especially in breastfeeding mothers, your diet should be varied, and based on how hungry you are. For a handy health gauge, look at your energy levels. A good energy input and diet should result in a VERY GRADUAL increase in energy. Good energy levels are a good indicator of overall health. If you feel good, chances are you ARE good.
Ladies, I’m going to drop some knowledge on you.
Dieting won’t make you healthy. Dieting will not make you beautiful. It will not undo what has happened to your body.
Nor should it, because my dear woman, you are amazing. You made life. You carried it inside you, you let it change you. You nurtured it as best you could, and sweetheart, it was amazing. Literally amazing. You should be in awe of yourself. Instead you are dieting. For some ill defined unattainable image of beauty, or some misapplied diagnostic medical tool. Whatever your reason – stop.
Eat healthy. Whatever that means. Pick something sustainable. Exercise gently…. and enjoy your baby. Enjoy you. Beauty is not a virtue. It isn’t something by which you should be defining yourself. You are so much more than that. You are so much more than your BMI. You are so much more than you give yourself credit for. Yet here you are, looking for people to say ‘well done’ at your shed pounds for a sense of accomplishment. You created life, lady. Weight watcher brownie points just do not compare.